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Cinema of the Dark SideAtrocity and the Ethics of Film Spectatorship$
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Shohini Chaudhuri

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748642632

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748642632.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

Documenting the Dark Side

Documenting the Dark Side

Fictional and Documentary Treatments of Torture and the ‘War on Terror’

(p.22) Chapter 1 Documenting the Dark Side
Cinema of the Dark Side

Shohini Chaudhuri

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter elaborates the book’s argument about morality and ethics by discussing documentaries and fictional dramas about torture and the ‘War on Terror’, including Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), and Standard Operating Procedure (2008). It argues that Zero Dark Thirty adheres to a moral script about 9/11 and its aftermath, justifying the self-appointed forces of good going over to ‘the dark side’. By constructing such a moral universe, the film helps to normalise torture and other illicit practices, making them acceptable. Taxi to the Dark Side creates another kind of moral universe, inspiring pity for the dark side’s victims and outrage towards the policy’s architects. However, Standard Operating Procedure, though criticised for its lack of moral perspective, stands out as the most ‘ethical’ of these films, as it engages us at multiple, sensory levels and explores how moral norms are reconstructed in the ‘atrocity-producing situation’.

Keywords:   torture, ‘War on Terror’, documentary, fictional drama, morality, ethics, Zero Dark Thirty, Taxi to the Dark Side, Standard Operating Procedure

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